Govt 12 July declared north-eastern border with Algeria and Mali military zone “absolutely prohibited to civilians” due to security threat posed by traffickers. Army mid-July stopped vehicle carrying weapons and ammunition near north-eastern border coming from Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. At summit of G5 Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania) in Bamako 1-2 July, members each pledged €10mn to finance 5,000-strong joint military force to counter jihadism in region (see Mali). Police 26 July cracked down on demonstrators in capital Nouakchott protesting against referendum on constitution planned for 5 Aug, several wounded.
On 3 August 2005, a junta led by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, director-general of the Sûreté National, and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, commander of the presidential security battalion, seized power in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The coup, which responded to the growing unpopularity and declining legitimacy of President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya’s regime, signifies a break with the past but also reflects significant continuity in terms both of method and personalities.
Disregarded by the media and international community, Mauritania is nonetheless experiencing a period of increasing instability. Evidence abounds and includes failed military coups, creation of a rebel movement, Foursan Taghyir ("The Knights of Change"), discovery of weapons caches in Nouakchott, and the arrest of Islamist leaders.
The Sahel, a vast region bordering the Sahara Desert and including the countries of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, is increasingly referred to by the U.S. military as "the new front in the war on terrorism".
Originally published in Slate Afrique